Author(s): Angelo Verzoni. Published on May 1, 2021.

Summer 2021 Briefs


NTSB urges more robust guidance on EV fire safety

Manufacturer guidance and federal safety standards are lacking when it comes to electric vehicle (EV) fire safety, according to a report published by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in January. 

“While the emergency response guides from electric car manufacturers are adequate in some respects, they’re lacking in others,” NTSB board member Jennifer Homendy said in an NTSB video about the report. “For example, they contain almost no information about how to handle stranded energy. Second, federal safety standards don’t address high-speed, high-severity crashes involving cars powered by lithium-ion batteries.”
To address the gaps in safety, the report recommends EV manufacturers like Tesla enhance their vehicles’ emergency response guides. It also recommends that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration consider the quality of those guides in their new car scores, and that organizations like NFPA continue to inform the public of the fire risk of EVs. 

Unlike gasoline, which can be drained from a vehicle’s tank, there are no surefire methods of removing energy from a car’s lithium-ion battery when the battery has been damaged in a crash. The energy that remains trapped inside the battery, posing a consistent fire risk, is known as stranded energy. There have been multiple cases of EV fires that have been put out only to reignite later—sometimes days later, when the vehicle’s already been removed from the scene. 

In April, NFPA Journal covered a Tesla crash and fire in Texas—and the complex issue of EV fires in general—in “Battered Batteries.” Read the article and download the NTSB report at

Wildfire Mitigation Award winners named

In February, three individuals were named as winners of the 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Awards.

This year’s winners include Marshall Turbeville, a battalion chief with CAL FIRE’s Northern Sonoma Fire Protection District in Geyserville, California; Courtney Haynes, a wildfire mitigation specialist for the West Region Wildfire Council in Montrose, Colorado; and Jessica Kirby, the open space management supervisor for the Snyderville Basin Recreation District in Park City, Utah. 

“State forestry agencies know firsthand it’s always wildfire season somewhere in the United States, and the 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Awardees know this, too,” said Joe Fox, president of the National Association of State Foresters (NASF). “In their own ways, this year’s winners have ensured the safety of thousands through their wildfire mitigation efforts. We congratulate them for receiving this honor and thank them for their dedication to this critically important work.”

Since 2014, the awards—cosponsored by NFPA, NASF, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and the US Forest Service—have served to demonstrate the importance of wildfire mitigation efforts throughout the country.

The three 2021 winners will be recognized at the Wildland/Urban Interface Conference in Reno, Nevada, scheduled for November 14 and 15. Learn more about the awards and past winners at

Study looks at environment and health risks of wildfire smoke

The increasing frequency and severity of wildfires in the United States threatens to undo decades of significant improvements in air quality and could pose a significant health risk to older and vulnerable populations. Those are two key findings from a report published in January in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Researchers from Stanford University and the University of California San Diego determined that since the mid- to late-2000s, the contribution of wildfire smoke to air pollution has more than doubled in some regions. In western states, wildfire smoke is now responsible for more than half of residents’ fine particulate matter exposure, compared to less than 20 percent a decade ago, according to the study.  

“These trends and patterns highlight important points of tension between existing air quality regulation and the growing threat from wildfire smoke and raise important unanswered research questions that will be critical to informing policy choice,” the study says. “Current fire suppression efforts understandably focus on protecting homes and structures, but the overall population health impact of a heavily polluting wildfire that does not threaten structures could be much worse than that of a smaller fire that does threaten structures.”

A first: Woman takes top Metro Chiefs’ honor  

Mary Cameli, chief of the Mesa Fire and Medical Department (MFMD) in Mesa, Arizona, has been named fire chief of the year by the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association.

Cameli is the first woman to receive the honor in the 56-year history of the Metro Chiefs, a membership section of NFPA that includes fire chiefs from major urban centers. Cameli received the honor in March. 

“Chief Cameli is an incredible leader and tireless supporter of all things fire service,” said Russ Sanders, executive secretary of the Metro Chiefs. “She is that rare leader who brings both big-picture vision and nuts-and-bolts hard work to the table. No matter the request, Chief Cameli is always among the first to jump in and do the heavy lifting.”

Cameli has served MFMD since 1983 and has been chief since 2016. She is credited with spearheading the department’s community health care model, which is regarded as a “gold standard” in the industry, according to an NFPA press release. Cameli is also vice chair of the executive board of the International Fire Service Training Association, vice president of the board of the Center for Public Safety Excellence, and co-chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs Women Chiefs Council. 

To learn more about the Metro Chiefs, visit

ANGELO VERZONI is a staff writer for NFPA Journal. Follow him on Twitter @angelo_verzoni. Top photograph: Getty Images